To the optimist the mug is half full, to the pessimist the mug is half empty, to the project manager the mug is twice as big as it needs to be – Stakeholder Management

In this post I will show how I group stakeholders into 4 separate groups and how this helps when communicating the impact of project changes. I also include a link to a free stakeholder management template.

Imagine the mug is the project deliverables and the contents are the project benefits. As a project manager the project needs to deliver a full mug and not one that is too big or too small. This can be achieved by controlling the project scope and ensuring good communication with any change requests.

By not controlling the scope there is a danger that the project (mug) is allowed to get bigger which impacts on time and cost. The end result is a project that is twice as big as it needs to be. This can have a wider impact on the organisation as the project takes resources away from other projects. These other projects are therefore unable to deliver their benefits.

While I understand that the scope of a project can change during the delivery it is important that the impact of these changes are communicated clearly in a way that people understand. Using our mug example sponsors need to know that by building a bigger mug we may not increase the benefits but impact other projects.

To the optimist, the mug is half full; to the pessimist, the mug is half empty; to the project manager, the mug is twice as big as it needs to be printed on a mug.

It is important that the impact of the change is communicated to project stakeholders. However each stakeholder will be interested in different impacts depending on their interest and power over the project. For example some stakeholders will be not be interested in your project but will be interested in the impact the change has on other projects that lose resources as people are reassigned.

To help me manage my stakeholders and ensure that I give the right communication to the right people I developed a spreadsheet. You can download a free copy here. The spreadsheet works by putting all the stakeholders in a list and scoring them by their interest and power over the project.

Once you have done this the stakeholders are then plotted into four quadrants.
Keep Satisfied
High power, less interested people: put enough work in with these people to keep them satisfied

Manage Closely
High power, interested people: these are the people you must fully engage with, and make the greatest efforts to satisfy.

Monitor Only
Low power, less interested people: monitor these people, but do not bore them with excessive communication.

Keep Informed
Low power, interested people: keep these people adequately informed, and talk to them to ensure that no major issues are arising.

Depending on where the stakeholders are plotted will shape the frequency and type of communication.

In our example those that are interested in the project will be interested in the project impacts where as those in the keep satisfied group will be less interested in project impacts but may be interested in the impacts on other projects. The danger is if these people are not informed about the impacts to other projects they could derail your project at a later date if and when they take back resources.

Get a mug, mouse mat, coaster or a folio with this quote and stick it on your desk. Get one here.







How do you manage stakeholders? Do you put them into groups?